When the Hesperia Art Club learned that their club headquarters rent was going up, many members feared the worst. After all, the news forced club leadership to make a tough decision: Move it, or lose it.

But just months after moving into new - and significantly less expensive - digs at the Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley, the club is experiencing a rebirth. Art teachers and students are especially enjoying the seemingly roomier space, a formerly unused corner of the museum located near Jess Ranch. Although both the old location and the new are around 1,000 square feet, the new spot has a larger classroom area.

"We can set it up more in a classroom style," said club president Liz Wells. "The teachers are loving it."

As a result, the learning environment is improved.

"Everyone is facing forward," said Barbara Parish, a watercolor landscape specialist who last week was teaching her students the art of painting watercolor on Asian rice paper. "I can see everyone's eyes. Everyone has room. Everyone has a table to work on."

After settling in, club members are realizing that their former location had its flaws. Gone is the high-volume automobile traffic associated with a vibrant shopping center. (The former location was in the center anchored by Cardenas grocery store at Main Street and 11th Avenue.)

"Here it's really quiet," said artist Terri Horton. "You don't have the outside distractions."

"We're not going to get the traffic we get at 11th Avenue," Wells added.

There is also more available parking, improved painting frame storage and an artist-friendly environment.

"Let's say there's no money involved in this," Wells said, hypothetically. "It's still a better location for us."

But it's not without one negative.

"We lost some members," Wells said. "For some it was too far. But it's not like it's in San Bernardino."

This isn't the first time the club has moved. Founded in 1965 by five women who were in the same oil painting class at Victor Valley College, the Hesperia Art Club has been based at the Grange, Lime Street Park and the Rose Plaza before moving to the previous home at 11th and Main.

"We're nonprofit," Wells said. "One owner will give us a good deal, then they'll raise the rent. It goes that way."

According to Wells, the club leadership wants to maintain the name "Hesperia" not only because that is how the name was listed in its incorporation, but because the club has a rich, long history in Hesperia.

Over time, Wells hopes Hesperia artists will continue to embrace the club. She also sees added interest due to its valley-central location.

"Everything about it is good."

For information on class schedule and events, call 947-4881.

The Victor Valley Museum is located at 11873 Apple Valley Road, Apple Valley. For museum information, call 240-2111 or 240-5290.